Time of the Gospel Chapter 8
Though night was slowly encroaching, there was nothing above any horizon to cast a shadow. When Solus walked strait at the sun, it burned at him as it had when hanging in the sky. Blurred visions of Vangards Aether Oasis had been drawn under swirling sands uncountable steps ago and had sunk low in his mind. His thoughts drifted to one place, but it was a scattered one. Where am I going? What am I doing? Vangard says I should appear to them, but Im not the hero they think I am. They dont know what is going on. For now though, I go onward. And so he did. Footprints packed loose sand, then collapsed in upon the shape swept by the wind as Solus again reached that point of his trails circle. There was the sun to guide him, but he did not need to maintain such a path, he was here, that was all.
Ah, Azule, and Black. Welcome home. An Acolyte in pureock armor raised a spear and allowed the two to pass through a golden arch. They were escorted through a long, decorated chamber and individually to separate rooms, one right, one left. Though separate, they were identical. Both were lined with smooth, white marble that would glisten from light shining through a polished glass porthole in a shadowed, but still white, marble ceiling. They each stripped completely of their garments, Azule of his golden armor, and Crystal of her priestess gowns, and stepped into a small, calm, round pool of clear water, its surface only catching a twinkle of the brightening moon. Once submerged an inch above their heads in holy water, they were sanctified and allowed to step out onto the other side. Their past garbs were taken away by a male a female servant respectively and they were presented with pure, white cloaks. Spotless, clothes, skin, and soul, they came together again and ambled across a breathtaking hall of gold and gems.
Finally they entered the main hall. Fine purple velvet lined large oak pews on an expansive floor and several more royal benches lined two floors of wide balconies. All seats were intently watching an elaborate altar. Situated on its platform were five single thrones of pureock. On them were five white robed men, and more were seated at the front row before them. The man in the center chair came down to the two newcomers. He was not a young man and his years began to dusk from their prime. Combed hair showed clear gray and aged skin several wrinkles. His eyes were wise, but longed back to days of youth. He embraced Azules wife then clasped his hand. Azule, it is good you have come.
Thank you Bishop.
And it is always a joy to see you, Crystal. Come, we are soon to begin. Arch Bishop Black returned to his high position while his daughter and son sat at the forefront pew. He uttered a single word, Lord, and all fell silent, all heads mimicked his in bowing down. we come before You purified today, seeking guidance, wisdom, and Your deliverance. We beg that You keep Your chosen people firm, and strike down the unrighteous who would flaunt you will. Praise to the Almighty. Amen. All eyes turned from God to Arch Bishop. Now, as you have all heard Legion is now able to call forth Gears. The question is, what are we to do about it?
Let us raise our own Gears of course.
No. It is forbidden. Shall we stray from the path of the chosen because others do?
Nicolas, Im not sure you understand the grievance of our situation.
We should bring forth our own Gears and attack the Legion first.
Cleos, it is impossible. Phalanx has such a firm grasp on this world How can you start to attack such an overwhelming darkness?
With light, your holiness.
Do you have something to say, Pointiff.
With light. You fight darkness with light: the Hero.
We cannot do anything about that, Azule.
I suggest we find the Hero, now.
Where did you get that ring, boy?
I am not a boy, get off me. Taran pushed Javen away as they spoke in the privacy of a far corner in the gigantic Gear hanger.
Where did you get that ring?
It was given to me.
That is none of your business.
Who are you?
I am Taran En Voy, formerly of Guard.
Javen was surprised, but did not let anyone see it. He could be useful, having someone who can pilot a Gear, and who is not tied down by politics. And that Gear of his may prove the most valuable of all You must come with me.
Why ~ should I?
I see it in your eye. You are not content with what you have now. You have a longing for power, and I can give it to you. You have a lust for battle, and I can guarantee that I will show you some of the fiercest wars you have ever dreamed of. Do you know where Tiber is?
Of course. All roads lead to Tiber. He quoted the familiar saying.
Do you wish to go there?
A revolution is in the furnace. I plan to wield it. The actions that we take now will determine the strength of this weapon and if it is able to conquer what God has already formed. Ase now is in a position to mold this weapon. Join with us and your power will be sure that the sword becomes strong.
Youre insane Count me in.
They returned to the center of the chamber where ten Gears stood. There were five Gears of close design, each tall and angelic, in a dark manner. There was a pair of dark gray gears, with a long gun by their sides. Two others were slightly shorter and had three stiff wings spreading from a large jet on their backs. The fifth had a classical set of two wings, in a position of superiority its wings were folded and its arms crossed infront of its thin, gray, humanlike form. Behind the Gears were another five where the Guard Captain stood. There was another winged pair, white with large guns. Three unique Gears held sleek, metallic weapons: shields, a massive claw, and long, whip-like swords.
Well, are these the ones? Javen asked.
Karen was there, along with another prisoner and another Guard soldier. Do you have it? the cyborg demanded. She nodded. He turned to the other prisoner brought with Karen. Im sorry for this. His left arm flew forward, a blade ejecting from his palm as it was driven into the mans heart.
Bryn turned sick and dropped his dinner on the floor. All Guard officers stared in shock. Jinn admired the mans swift action and precision of his kill. Taran raised an eyebrow, but nothing more. The prisoner stared at his new gaping wound, his now red clothes, and fell dead at Javens feet.
The Guard Captain bellowed curses. What ~ are you doing! This is Guard Headquarters! You cannot kill someone here, ~ ! I dont care if youre from Ase or not, you cannot do whatever you ~ want!
He was not your man, Captain. I paid for him. Now If you please Javen held out his hand. Jinn reached in her cloak and pulled out a Soul-Stone. Ah, isnt it wondrous? The cyborg took the crystal and placed it before the Gears. He took the fallen man, raised him above the crystal, and let blood drip deep into the rock until it was an abyss of darkness. Javen withdrew a vile of zin and sprinkled it onto the black rock. In turn, sprinkles began to break apart and swarm towards the titans. Each of them came to life, nothing of grandeur, but subtly, their engines warmed, their computers diagnosed themselves, they fidgeted.
I I All who had first to witness such a spectacle stared in amazement. Even Taran, who had just piloted a Gear, had not yet come over shock of doing such, simply began to cope with it. Now wow.
We are going to have to find another one of those Javen muttered as he observed a crumpled pile of Soul-dust.
Do do they work?
Of course they work. Dont publicize this though. This is now Guards secret weapon, and I expect it to stay secret.
Guard, board. The Captain gave orders and two soldiers joined him in three Gears. Giants stretched, then went around, running, gliding, jumping, flying around the hangar. Their weapons had retained skill and power for two centuries, and now called upon it again as they beat upon far older scrap Gears. The Guard Captain returned with a smile on his face, no longer noticing the dead man before him. Well, this was an excellent trade if I do say so.
Im sure Captain. We must be leaving now.
Load the Gears into our transport and take them to Nortune. The rest of us are going to Tiber.
The sun finally managed to find a mounded dune to cast long intended night over a bed of sand. Grains tried to hold on, each to its own ability, but their grip slipped, the solar rays dropped under the horizon, and it was cold. There was the moon, but it was selfish, keeping its light close, not sharing with the vast sky. Stars were kind, but far too far. Ice seemed to settle over the once burning plain, but all fire was gone, no contrast melted, and it remained dry. Theyve seen this thousands of times, survived thousands of cold moons, thousands of hot suns. But, they actually lost thousands of nights ago Solus placed one knee in chilled sand, observing a large, pale bone. Gazing around he was in a virtual graveyard of the same, and they all belonged to one creature.
After a closer look, Solus was able to make out a huge skull, larger than himself. From there, a broken spinal cord wove a sidewinders path in the sand. Four torn legs stretched outward, a score of curved swords circling each bony foot. White arches reached upward, skeleton of a tunnel, or ribs of a dragon. Set between such an arch was a boulder-sized gem, black with night. A mist swirled within its thick glass prison, then escaped. It stretched out through a crack in its cell, grabbed a bone with its boneless hand, and pulled it close. It seeped out of its confines like too much water from a bending, warping, expanding container. It lifted flesh stripped monster salvage as if a flood, carrying it all together in a whirlpool of fog.
A vessels frame was now standing, and skin began to be stretched around accordingly. Night reflecting scales were sorted from sand as they were formed, then spread across a dragons completing body. Then, it was finished. Solus had seen it scattered sporadic over Duneman desert, had seen it slowly come together, seen it gradually pulled into place, seen its armor forged and wrapped about it again. He heard its feet sink into the sand, felt its breath begin to create currents in the air, saw its eyes wake. Yet, though witness to its entire resurrection, he was startled by its sudden life.
Gaping empty the giant dragon opened its tusk-like toothed mouth and spoke. Solus, you cannot survive in that form. Its voice came not from its mouth, but from the giant stone that served as a heart, not sounding like it passed through a rekindled fiery throat, but was a voice of darkness.
Then you shall die.
Do you know who I am?
Not knowing how, not knowing why, he knew. He knew it was not a dragon, he knew it was something darker than the midnight that surrounded. It was some entity, ancient, formed from hatred and deceit, formed from a condemning desire to destroy him. Yes.
Then you know what must occur.
A strong gale dusted up the sand, brining in a cold from far off over the sea. Solus dropped his Aveh military shirt onto the desert bed. Yes.
A horrible cry emitted from within the lizard, an ugly roar that shook expanses of the desert. Its foot raised, swords were drawn from their sheaths, and the claws came down in a brutal swipe. Solus jumped away in a cloud of upturned sand, turned and hurled a ball of illumination at the reptiles face. The energy orb made contact like a fist of appropriate size to jet its head ninety around its once severed neck. A trail of light that had followed the ball dispersed. While returning his gaze, the dragon returned the blow, a bend of the tail and Solus fell rolling back.
After three clumsy reverse summersaults, the man planted his feet on loose sand and rocketed forward through the air in a strait line, made a fast spin, and smacked a kick to the beasts chest with the full force of his upward dive. Four tracks in the sand were made as the giant was moved back. His next kicks hit a whipping tail, a huge claw, and the other front foot; they created a counter force and repelled. The dragon, possessing incredibly more size as well as an extra able limb, managed to slide in another attack, swatting Solus out of the sky from above. He crashed down, unsettled dust, and looked at blood flowing from a tear a single claw had torn.
Placing his hand over the wound, Solus closed his eyes and pressed on the pain. White light soothed it, closed the veins, the muscles, the flesh, until it was healed. Quickly he rolled down a dune as the reptiles foot crushed the hill flat. Shooting his feet in the air at an arch, he landed upon the sand, twisted his bare torso, and blasted another sphere of light at the dragons foot. The pillar collapsed and Solus flew towards another column. Without slowing he wrapped his arms around it, preparing for a tackle. A boost of speed pushed him on, but the reptiles tail sent him twirling chaotically through the air. Though his hold was released, the effort had been made and the tower was toppled. Both supports now removed, the beast fell. In that momentary weakness, Solus rushed direct out of his forced spin, charged a white glow around a weapon of two clenched hands, and smashed it atop the dragons head.
In a quick motion the lizards head fell to the dirt, as if by its own will. Its eyes closed, its breath grew faint. Wind gained power, stung Solus with tiny specks of sand, drew cold to him, and pushed a dense cloud over the moon. All was black, nothing was visible; the only thing reassuring Solus that he had not been dragged into a deep void was ever changing sand beneath him. Blindly he cupped his hands together, as if holding something small. A flicker of light formed, then died, and was there again. With every flash it grew stronger, painting his hands a warm orange, eventually shining out from creases between his fingers. Taking the light, a star stolen from the cloud covered night sky, he placed it on the ground. It continued to glow with illumination, giving sight to a small circular battlefield, as a campfire in a dense forest night casting long shadows behind everything that was and was not there. Including the dragon, for its imprint in smothered grains was all that remained.
Cipher! Show yourself! Quake rippled across the earth raising sand like a tidal wave. It knocked over Solus and lifted his light high into the air. The unseen beast, now standing upright on two feet (kept in balance by two small new wings and its tail,) its long neck reaching to the sky, landed, which caused the tremor, and somehow reversed it, drawing Solus towards it. His light reached the apex of its flight then fell softly into sand a dozen feet away. The two fought at the edge of dusk.
Blue flame fell like a waterfall from the serpents drooling mouth, but it was a limited fire, not sharing with the sky, keeping all light to itself. It rained upon the defending warrior and engulfed him. From within a circle of ravishing heat, burning his skin, singeing his life, Solus formed a shield of white light, encasing him in a clear, empty gem. Flames broadened around him and streaked down, like the cloak of a falling star. A cool cone fighting fire from within grew larger, taller, as he forced himself upward, ever against the blaze, until he reached their origin. Giving one last push he delivered an uppercut that rocketed the beasts snake-like neck strait into the clouds then continuing an arch backwards, a blue glow foaming between its upside-down clenched jaws.
Intense muscles allowed the lizards neck to slither about back into position. Its tail twitched then shot at the breathless man who, surprisingly, still had enough strength to jump above it. Cipher then squashed him with a claw, grinding him against the sand. The man squirmed, pushed with all his might, but could not lift the force of the hand. His illuminating orb launched from its place and struck the dragons face. In the distraction he wrestled free and began to utilize a healing prayer. A green radiance shone down passed thin clouds and again magically cured him.
Another cascade fell on him from Ciphers throat that now gaped not far above his head. Solus was again assaulted by flames, this time forming his own projectile. A glowing sphere shot upward, quenching fire and dropping white sparkles as it soared. It darted into the dragons mouth and continued, forcing its way through metal-hard skull and ripping out the top of its head carrying a geyser of scales and bone. A devastating roar filled the night. Two sets of claws surrounded Solus and trapped him in a mysterious bond. There he was held as the beasts head reformed itself and glared at the inflictor of its wound. You will die. After it spoke, a surge of black energy flowed out, shredding Solus apart.
Survival instinct took control and Solus somehow broke free of his suspension, falling down into the sand. Powered by an extreme energy, he burrowed down under it, pushed through grains, then shot strait up, lifting Ciphers stomach with his fist. He flew ever higher, lifting the bend over lizard high into the air. A hard shove flung the giant a sharl higher. Solus quickly backflipped, coming up at the falling reptile with both feet and driving them into its gut, picked it up higher, and sent it away, crashing down onto the ground, raising a storm of sand.
Landing gently, the victor took in a deep breath of dust filled air, exhaled, and began to gather his strength back. Hes not down yet His skin was still scarred, his muscles still exhausted. Repetitive, but necessary, he cast a third healing spell. In a last flicker, his created light died, everything again was plunged into darkness.
Well fought, Veritas, but now it ends. With no sight, it was impossible to defend. Solus was slashed, crushed, and battered time and again, whipped across the desert, buried in its sand. A void crashed into him through the dark and he fell down, down, until he lay paralyzed in a spotlight.
Solus looked around and saw nothing, a bleak emptiness, but at least he could see. A light shone down on him, forming a yellow circle on some invisible ground. A blade flew by. Solus jumped to his feet and away from its path. Like a pendulum it returned, and he was able to observe it more closely. It was a lustrous, pureock, fancy cross with a large ruby embedded in its center. When it whisked passed again it sounded of metal cutting through air, perhaps pulling on a chain. The scenery changed and he was standing above the cosmos. All around were distant stars, he was floating in space. And still there was the repeating clink of the cross, the bright spotlight shining from nowhere.
From one of the forever-far solar systems, two dots flew towards him. They grew larger and larger, until he could make them out to be Gears. Both were like angels, one dark, one light. The first was a dark brown, black in some places. Two black bat wings kept it in space. Its arms were folded, then the right outstretched, extended to the other, and let out a burning flame. The sparks were scattered about the universe, fading into the backdrop of stars, adding to their number. A white beam that had countered the attack dispersed as well. Across from the dark was the light. They bore the same appearance, but were of different color and texture. Fire from the first consumed the second and it fell downward towards a star. The brown Gear clenched its clam fist and the sun died. With is death came a supernova, stellar wind picked up, raged outward, solar flares erupted, and the entire star exploded.
Triumph and defeat rose to meet Solus: one dark and brown, the other scorched and white. They opened and two figures jumped down to stand on nothing opposite the swinging cross. Right: the dark Gear and a man dressed accordingly. He was masked in a cult like black covering, long earrings, and a black cape wrapped around him. Left: the once clean Gear and its pilot; his form was identical to the other, his face resembled Solus own, but was paler. His hair was short (when compared with Solus black falling tail) and a deep blue, the sides shaved. A white cloak fell loose over his shoulders, a blue sash over one of them and around his waist. Looking into both mens eyes, he saw they were his. The second man spoke. You must choose one of us. The jewel studded cross reached the edge of its arch and paused above him.
The other spoke. I will give you power.
I will destroy the dragon.
I will destroy the world, place it in your hand.
I will not. It is not yours.
That matters not. I can secure it for you.
You do not need it.
You should not take it.
She is more than that. Do not give in.
Everything can be yours.
But it is wrong.
Solus stared at the two, taking turns with promises, breaking them. But was anything true? He recalled what he had been told as a child, how he had been raised by the sages, and in that moment none of it mattered. All the reassuring they provided him amounted to nothing. It was his choice, not Melchiors, not Gaspars, not Belthazars. He looked into a mans eyes and saw the emotions within them. Try as he might, Solus could not place those feelings within his own heart. He Difficulty he fought himself, and chose. You.
The cross swung towards the dark man, flashed, and encased him in its ruby. The white robed man smiled. I am Sueg, you have chosen well. It swung across horizonless space, carrying the neglected man within it. All flashed, and was gone.
Leon stirred in his sleep. Stretching and standing he slowly peered out of his tent. It appeared to be late morning, bright as ever, but it was only for an instant. Dark again he stepped out to the desert midnight. High above the moon shone a perfect circle. Trapped within it were two figures, one a flying snake, the other a small man. The two collided in a flash of lightning that illuminated the sky. They were both flung back, vanishing when leaving the moons stage. Again they came forward and attacked each other, another lightning bolt. He ran to Vangard.
Solus, or Sueg, darted back at the dragon, who had taken flight on its enlarging wings. He kicked strong, lit up the sky with white force behind his foot, and knocked Cipher away. It retaliated with an inferno of black fire, but Sueg cracked through it, pelted the serpent full of orbs of raw, radiating energy. It screamed a blast of flame, condensed to a boulder-sized ball that hit Sueg and crushed him down into the sand. In a final lunge he returned from ashes, returned to the air, and kicked Cipher across the surface of the moon. The demon was pushed back, trailing streaks of crooked light, then crashed down to earth.
In his new transformation, Solus had won the battle. The dragon flew off beyond the desert, Sueg did not give chase. He landed, walked, stumbled, and fell. A light was absorbed from him like steam into the air, white glow flickered out, a shadow rising up his body. Sueg was gone, Solus lay cringing, crippled in the sand. He did not move.
Alright, I admit that this was a very confusing chapter, pretty metaphorical but that's not important for right now. If I (and any of my readers? You?) ever make it to the end of this story, it'll all make since. Very much like Xenogears. Playing it the second time is when you can really say "Oh, I know what they're talking about now." Anyway, sorry for the confusion, but I had fun writing the intense battle scene. Hope you all enjoyed it.
Go To Chapter 9
Return To Xenogears Fanfic